Succumb to maya?

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Answers by HH Romapada Swami

How did Srila Prabhupada persist in service, while we succumb to maya?

Q: Prabhupada had undergone so many troubles in his life; still he continued his preaching in his life even after having so many temples to manage. That was his success. But when we are trying to follow his teachings in our life, why are we not able follow it perfectly?

Sometimes we say Maya is so strong. What will happen to us? When we are sick, it is so difficult to even complete 16 rounds. Why does this happen to us?

Answer: We know from Srimad Bhagavatam (SB 1.2.6) that there is no material force that can stop the flow of pure devotional service - it is ‘ahaituki apratihata’, causeless and uninterrupted. It is the characteristic of one who is in the steady stage of pure devotion that they are not swayed by any material influences or circumstances - this was exemplified in Srila Prabhupada’s life. Conversely, unsteadiness in our execution of Krishna consciousness is caused by lack of maturity in our faith & devotion, thus permitting impediments or “unwanted things in the heart” (anarthas) to prevail. For sadhakas, or those of us in the practicing stage of devotion, as long as unwanted residual desires (anarthas) are present in the heart, there is experience of unsteadiness and struggles.

When these anarthas are uprooted by proper execution of hearing, chanting etc (as described in SB 1.2.18) then one becomes situated in nistha, or irrevocable devotional service.

In other words, imperfections and unsteadiness in our initial efforts to cultivate devotion is not unexpected and not something to be discouraged about. This should not however make us complacent or indifferent to our lack of success thinking, “Anyway I am not a very advanced devotee like Prabhupada and this is how it is going to be for a long time to come.” The weeds of anarthas, if left unattended, will completely outgrow and choke our bhakti-creeper. Therefore, taking inspiration from the example the pure devotees have set before us, we should enthusiastically uproot these sources of unsteadiness, having full confidence in the potency of the process given by the acharyas.

The most important element that carries one from the position of anisthita bhakti to the other side of nistha is strong faith. Strong faith is defined as the unflinching trust that simply by executing Krishna consciousness, one automatically performs all subsidiary activities and achieves the highest perfection. In practical terms, thistranslates to acting firmly and obeying the instructions of the representative of Krishna; by firmly following the orders of Guru and Krishna, all obstacles are overcome. (Please see BG 2.41 p.) And the backbone of faith is enthusiasm. Eagerness to attain the fearless shelter of lotus feet of Krishna and enthusiastically striving for it by the proper means: this will completely ensure our success in devotional service.

Maya is indeed very strong but Krishna is stronger than maya. A devotee should regard Maya with respectful caution and therefore take shelter of Krishna for protection. Krishna promises that those who surrender to Him can easily cross over Maya.

Srila Prabhupada once remarked “The reason I can never fall down to Maya is because I am ALWAYS praying to Krishna to kindly protect me from falling down.”

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Thank You for this wonderful article Your Holiness. I would like to add my perspective on this identical topic. The tendency for the content of our mind’s thoughts to default away from thinking ( and consequently acting) about how to please Hari, Guru, Vaisnava is inextricably linked to what we believe about ourself. In the conditioned state, this belief ( stealthily hidden, but implicate in our behavior) is that I AM THIS BODY. This state of being is a product of the jiva’s sensory experience of the world of phenomena ,in such a way, that the false ego is the prime beneficiary of the experience. The origin of this state cannot be traced out historically, but it is cosequent with the origin of duality.
In the beginning of our practice of Krishna Consciousness , we should recieve sambhanda tattva from the Guru( or His representative), and we should accept this knowledge with proper faith. One pivotal part of this sambhanda tattva is knowledge of our real identity; this is I AM SPIRIT SOUL, ETERNAL SERVANT OF KRISHNA ( despite what the self appears to be to the mind and senses in the world of phenomena). This real identity of ours is both INALIENABLE and INCONTROVERTIBLE ; We cannot be alienated from it , nor can it be overturned. We must completely accept this knowledge of our REAL IDENTITY into the core of our heart; this accomplishment is not mechanical, but it involves heart felt supplication to Hari, Guru, Vaisnava ( while simultaneously qualifying ourselves by devotional service with proper understanding of who we are , and who is the beneficiary of our servitude). By the mercy of the Lord this new ( and correct ) belief about ourselves will become rooted in our heart. WE SHOULD ENDEAVOR OUR BEST to keep it rooted there. All the other motivations for performing can be spent ( ex: curiosity, desire for material benediction, etc), EXCEPT ONE WHICH IS INCONTROVERTIBLE , AND ONE FROM WHICH WE CANNOT BE ALIENATED. Upon FACTUAL acceptance ( even partially) of our real identity we will experience many changes in our devotional service, which are in some ways like benchmarks of progress. Some of these changes are : 1.feelings of streams of great joy in devotional service, 2.quietening of the senses ( including the skin and genitals), 3.cooperation by the mind thereby enabling an opportunity for a more quality relationship with the Holy Name, 4.increased motivation to perform the activities of devotional service( and personalease in accepting the Vaisnava way of life), 5. freedom from the efffects of duality ( ex: motivation may remain steady in the presence or absence of others, Sri Murti iremains attractive in simple or ornate attire, Kirtan is attractive with simple or embellished cadence), and most importantly 6. the tendency of the mind to default towards thinking of how to please Guru, and Krishna. This situation is very favorable for taking us across anartha nrivitti onto nishta. It can be greatly assisted in the sadhaka stage if we have an opportunity to perform a service that is particularly suited to our psychophysical nature( but we should always be prepared to do the needful).
If we go on performing devotional service without properly understanding our real identity, the performance of devotional service can become a nominal activity in our life. Then we risk having the experience of “thick/ thin” devotional service; this is a situation where material experience constantly competes with our ” devotional ” experience. Further, we then rob ourself the opportunity to experience steadiness in devotional service, and its astounding effect. Finally the chance of being diverted ( or succumbing) becomes more probable.

Comment posted by Mithuna Das on September 29th, 2006

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